The actual problems that I am facing is: a user (let's call him bob) has left several off-topic comments on a post, on a site where I am a moderator.

I would like to delete these comments, and also leave a comment telling the user in question to use chat instead. I could do this:

  1. Leave a comment: @bob I've deleted your off-topic comments, please use [chat](http://…) for this kind of off-topic discussion.
  2. Delete bob's comments.

However bob would not be notified.

Ideally I would migrate bob's comments to chat, but that's not currently possible.

I'm rather in favor of leaving a public comment here, to deter others from leaving similar off-topic comments. I don't want to lock the questions, because that would prevent editing and voting.

So, what can I do here, and what should I do here?

(Recall that I'm a moderator. If that's not your case, and you see a stream off-topic comments, particularly if they're annoying you because they're on your answer, flag the post and explain the situation.)

Return to Stack Exchange Moderator FAQ

  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/118944/…
    – yannis
    Jan 14 '12 at 16:37
  • 3
    @ZaphodBeeblebrox Thanks, this answers my original question: my proposed action won't have the desired effect. So I'm turning this question into what I should do in this situation. Jan 14 '12 at 16:51
  • 1
    Hmm, I'm not sure that bob wouldn't be notified. If I followed properly, in linked example the comments responsible for generating the notifications (the ones with the @mentions in them) were deleted, and it makes sense that those would be tied directly to the notification in a way that the notification could also be removed. In your scenario though, as long as you left your comment, the system would have to know that bob's comment you deleted was the comment that caused the comment you posted to generate a notification for bob in the first place...which I could see it not doing.
    – Tim Stone
    Jan 14 '12 at 17:15
  • You wrote …please use [chat](http://…) for…. I presume that you mean that you'd write (http://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/1098/french-language-and-usage) (On French) in this case? That's not necessary, just use [chat] - This will generate a magic link as if you'd typed the much longer [French Language and Usage Chat](http://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/1098/french-language-and-usage) instead. Jan 14 '12 at 17:16
  • "stamp down" isn't helping anything, given the recent events. Jan 14 '12 at 21:27

What we do on Programmers is leave a comment along the lines of

Commenters: comments are meant for seeking clarification, not for extended discussion. If you have a solution, leave an answer. If your solution is already posted, please upvote it. If you'd like to discuss this question with others, please use [chat]. See the [FAQ] for more information.

Then we leave it for a few hours/day and come back to clean it up.

If the comments are just an endless argument about the post rather than a tangential off-topic discussion, we have a policy of leaving a comment asking the poster if there's anything in the comments that they'd like to incorporate into their question or answer before the discussion's cleaned up. Some do, some don't, but we advise those who disagree with the answer to post an answer of their own and use downvotes and usually prune the discussion down to at least the basic points made.

Mind you, this is not a very popular position, but if you're just dealing with off-topic comments, it's pretty easy to implement and enforce.

Programmers Meta references:

  1. When should comments be deleted?
  2. How do our moderators, and community members, feel about cleaning up comment noise?
  3. How can we improve our guidance about the purpose of comments?
  • 2
    How do you remind yourself to come back and clean it up? Jan 14 '12 at 17:09
  • 1
    Ok, but I'm really after a solution that doesn't involve going back to clean up. Even on a small site, I don't want to have the extra burden of leaving myself (or another moderator) a note to check back later, I want to respond to the flag and be done with it. Jan 14 '12 at 17:14
  • 1
    @KevinVermeer We often just leave the flag in the queue. We rarely find threads that need cleaning but don't trigger the automatic "20 comments in 3 days" flag. When that does happen, I don't know about other mods, but I just remember that we have a thread that needs attention.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jan 14 '12 at 17:17
  • Ah. We rarely find threads that trigger the automatic "20 comments in 3 days" flag. Maybe we don't have a problem, or maybe our problem threshold is lower. Jan 14 '12 at 17:33

What I did (which may or may not be the best solution) is to manually copy-paste the comments into a chat room and use the moderator @@userid@site to notify bob.

  • This is a really time-consuming operation for little value. This may be the best solution right now, but it's not the best solution possible. Jan 14 '12 at 17:09
  • @KevinVermeer I agree, I wouldn't do it every time. It was rather easier in this case because there were several comments but all from the same user, so I didn't need to add attributions (I did a couple of copy-paste-to-chat with multiple comment authors, and that was the worst bit, adding attributions). Jan 14 '12 at 17:12

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